Thursday, August 24, 2006

Isn't there some, oh, real news to report?

When I logged on to AOL today, I was met with the headline that Jessica Lynch is pregnant. You remember her. The was the soldier who was held as a prisoner of war for a period of time at the beginning of the Iraq war, suffering severe injuries int he course of being captured.

Well, apparently she and her boyfriend are going to be parents. I'm happy for her. I really am. I'm glad she's got good things going on in her life now, after having to go through all of that courtesy of George and Dick and the boys and their little adventure in misdirection. But her pregnancy is not news. Surely there are many more important things going on in the world.

And by important, I don't mean the landing in Colorado of the plane carrying that Karr guy who says he's the one who killed Jon Benet Ramsey. But, apparently, MSNBC, which carried the landing live this afternoon, did. It was under the category of "Breaking News", and I guess they thought it was absolutely vital for us all to know that his plane had landed the very moment it happened.

It is very possible that this guy is simply a raving nutjob who is looking for publicity, or is playing out some perverse fantasy, or even just getting some kind of private jollies out of confessing to an infamous crime. In that case, the media is playing right into his...whatever it is that he's doing. Even if he did murder that little girl (something I'm still more than a little skeptical about, honestly), his plane landing is not breaking news. If they find his DNA on crime scene materials, that might be breaking news. Maybe. Personally, I can wait until the next scheduled newscast to find that out.

Then again, I've never seen an adequate explanation as to why the media is so obsessed with this particular killing. Lots of kids get murdered, but the media doesn't spend day and night on the story. Hell, just over two years ago right here in Fresno a man murdered nine of his children and grandchildren (some of the victims were both) one spring afternoon. After an inital spate of publicity, there was very little said about the whole thing in the national media, despite the sensational aspects of the case - incest, polygamy, weird religion, antique coffins, and an apparent obsession with vampires. When the perpetrator was convicted, there was mention in the national press, but just barely. The difference? The victims here, some of them younger than Jon Benet Ramsey, were of mixed race, not especially photogenic, didn't have much money.

I'm not saying that the murder of one child isn't a horrible thing. Of course it is. But the idea that one murder is more horrible, or more important, or just more worth covering because the victim's parents were rich and the victim herself was pretty, is disgusting. And I'm not advocating not reporting any of the cases just because they can't all be covered in depth. All I'm saying is that there is reporting and then there is obsession...and the Jon Benet story long ago reached the level of obsession on the part of the media.

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